Leg 1 : Prokop second, eight seconds from the lead The final round of the season for the Junior started this morning with...the cancellation of the first special stage. Due to the extreme number of local spectators who had come to cheer on the...
Leg 1 : Prokop second, eight seconds from the lead
The final round of the season for the Junior started this morning with...the cancellation of the first special stage. Due to the extreme number of local spectators who had come to cheer on the drivers, the organisers had no choice but to cancel the opening stage to maintain safety standards. Durng the leg today, the C2 Junior Experience drivers highlighted their potential, setting four fastest times out of a possible five. Martin Prokop is now second, just 8.8 seconds off the leader and the highest-placed Citroen driver.
The Czech got off to a flying start today, setting three fastest times in the five stages that made up today's action. He had some worries about the power output from his engine in SS3, but this did not prevent him from being in the leading group with his C2 Super 1600. Aaron Burkart, fourth this evening, maintained his position from the start of the rally. The German driver demonstrated admirable consistency, despite taking time to get used to the Corsican roads this morning. Behind him, PH Sport driver Conrad Rautenbach suffered from an inappropriate set-up from the start of the event and he is classified sixth tonight. Yoann Bonato, a `newcomer' to the Citroen C2 Super 1600, is currently eighth. Having fallen victim to a puncture on SS4, the Frenchman set fastest time on the final stage of the day.
Vilius Rozukas is leading the C2-R2 category after an excellent performance. The young Lithuanian is only contesting his second rally with the C2-R2, and it is only his third asphalt rally in total. At the end of leg one, he is 11th in the Juniors. Stefano Benoni is just four seconds behind him. The Italian put in an excellent performance during the opening leg, confirming his pace in Catalunya. The two Kronos Junior Team drivers, Gilles Schammel and Raphael Auquier, are 13th and 15th respectively. Gilles Schammel's C2-R2 had a problem with engine power all day, while Raphael Auquier changed a clutch at midday service and then changed the gearbox at the overnight halt.
Before the final round of this year's Junior Championship got underway, Citroen Sport launched the new Citroen C2-R2 MAX to the media and potential customers. It will be homologated on January 12008 under the new FIA Group R regulations. The Junior drivers got to know Citroen's latest evolution of the C2-R2 at a testing venue close to Cauro in Southern Corsica. Simon Jean-Joseph, who is currently second in the European Championship, demonstrated the car which is outwardly similar to the current C2-R2 but has been extensively mechanically reworked.
Citroen drivers Prokop, Auquier, Schammel, Lemes and Benoni as well as Suzuki driver Komljenovic and his co-driver Jeremic sampled the C2-R2 MAX. Raphael Auquier, who drives a C2-R2 for the Kronos Junior Team, was impressed. " It's incredible ! " he said. " The C2-R2 MAX is a genuine evolution, particularly in terms of front and rear suspension. It has exceptional roadholding. But having said that, Simon Jean-Joseph is a pretty exceptional driver as well. " Next year, the C2 Junior Experience drivers will be able to choose between the C2-R2, the C2-R2 MAX and the C2 Super 1600.
Raphael Auquier (B)
Co-driver Cedric Pirotte (B)
" We started off with a bad set-up this morning. During yesterday's shakedown we broke the radiator and so we didn't have time to establish the correct set-up for the start of the rally. We changed the clutch at midday service, and then we broke the gearbox mount over the last two stages. This means that we will be changing the gearbox tonight in order to set off properly tomorrow ! "
Stefano Benoni (I)
Co-driver Alessandro Mari (I)
" Tutto bene ! Everything went well for us today. I'm very happy with my times and my second place in the C2-R2 category. The car worked well, and that allowed me to consolidate my place and have a consistent opening day. I hope that tomorrow will go just as well for me and that I will be able to continue to be able to show my capabilities. "
Yoann Bonato (FR)
Co-driver Benjamin Boulloud (FR)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" The C2 Super 1600 is very different to the R2, and much more fun to drive. But we started carefully this morning in order to continue to adapt ourselves to the C2. We set some good times but I think we were still hoping for more. Especially when we fell victim to a puncture on the first stage of the second loop ! We lost a lot of time and several places in the Junior classification. But at least we managed to get some time back when we went quickest on the final stage ! "
Aaron Burkart (D)
Co-driver Michael Koelbach (D)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" It was tricky for me to get used to the Corsican stages during the first loop this morning. There are several places where you have to cut the corners precisely and that demands a huge degree of control over the car. The second loop was better for us. I'm in a solid fourth place with ny C2 Super 1600 which hasn't caused me a single problem all day. "
Martin Prokop (CZ)
Co-driver Jan Tomanek (CZ)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" On the third stage we had some worries about the engine, but that didn't stop us from setting some quick times. I'm still disappointed though this evening to have lost the overall class lead. Now I'm just eight seconds behind Urmo Aava and my plan will be to get the lead back tomorrow. "
Conrad Rautenbach (ZW)
Co-driver David Senior (GB)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" I don't understand ! Shakedown went well and the set-up yesterday was perfect, but we started off our adventures with some steering problems this morning. In the afternoon, things got worse. Our result this evening isn't too bad all things considered, but it's not as good as I had hoped. I think that the second stage will be better suited to my driving style : at least that's what I'm hoping ! "
Vilius Rozukas (LT)
Co-driver Audrius Shosdas (LT)
" I didn't have much time to assess my performance this morning with just two special stages. They went well, but I wanted to see how the second loop would be. As it turned out we led the category but we had some problems with the gearbox. We're going to change the oil in it tonight in order to start on the right foot tomorrow morning. "
Gilles Schammel (L)
Co-driver Renaud Jamoul (B)
" From the first few stages we felt that the engine lacked power, as had been the case in
Catalunya. At midday we changed the box but during the afternoon, when we thought we
had solved the problem, the times we were setting were still not representative of our efforts
behind the wheel. We'll see now what we can do at service to solve these problems. "
Junior Championship classification
Rallye de France Tour de Corse, at end of leg one
1. U. Aava/K. Sikk (Suzuki Swift) 1h 06 min 05,9 s 2. M. Prokop/J. Tomanek (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 8,8 s 3. P. Andersson/J. Andersson (Suzuki Swift) + 16,9 s 4. A. Burkart/M. Kolbach (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 42,1 s 5. J. Beres/ P. Stary (Renault Clio) + 45,6 s 6. C. Rautenbach/D. Senior (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 1 min 03,7 s 7. A. Augoyard/X. Panseri (Renault Clio) + 1 min 57,8 s 8. Y. Bonato/B. Boulloud (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 3 min 00,0 s 9. M. Kosciuszko/M. Szczepaniak (Renault Clio) + 3 min 04,4 s 10. A. Cortinovis/F. Zanella (Renault Clio) + 3 min 24,0 s 11. V. Rozukas/A. Shosdas (Citroen C2-R2) + 5 min 08,6 s 12. S. Benoni/A. Mari (Citroen C2-R2) + 5 min 12,1 s 13. G. Schammel/R. Jamoul (Citroen C2-R2) + 5 min 40,2 s 14. T. Barral/J. Rebut (Renault Clio) + 6 min 49,1 s 15. R. Auquier/C. Pirotte (Citroen C2-R2) + 7 min 36,7 s